The 7th, 9th and 10th of August 2015
Nearly every evening during the summer months, there are performances in the parks around the old centre in Merida. Sometimes a band is playing and people are challenging the heat by showing off their best performance. Another evening, in another park, dances are performed by different groups in costume, from different regions.
Trovadores (troubadours) are performing in another park on another evening. Friday evening is set for the Pok A Tok, in front of the Cathedral. This was a sacred ball game from the Mayan people and it started with a ritual performance. The teams were not allowed to touch the ball, only with their hips or chest etc. and the ball had to be thrown through a ring, which was so difficult , that one game could take days. It was attended by important people (chiefs and kings) and the captain of the team that lost, was often beheaded.
On the 9th, I went to “The Great Mayan World Museum”, which is situated in a new and modern building in Northern Merida. I was a little bit confused, which bus I had to take. From where I am staying, you just walk to the main road and hop on a local bus, which is going up-North, but not all the buses are stopping at the museum. The best thing is to take a bus to Grand Plaza (a shopping mall) and walk the last few meters, though there are two buses, which will stop very close to the museum and a friendly lady, who was waiting at the same spot where I was standing, informed me about that. People are all very helpful here and I needed them, on the many occasions that I got lost.
The museum is divided in two departments, one is scientific and art related (a lot about the “birth” of Yucatan, astronomy, meteors and dinosaurs) and the other is the Mayan department. It tells you about the way of living of the Mayan people in former times and nowadays. A very interesting and interactive museum. To see all it has to offer, you can easily spend acouple of hours in the lovely air-conditioned rooms.
On Monday the 10th, I took the local bus to Dzibilchaltun, a place North of Merida, where you can find many Mayan buildings, among them “The Temple Of The Seven Dolls”, named so, as they found 7 dolls inside its chamber. Dzibilchaltun means in Mayan language “The Place of Scriptures on Flat Stones. To find out, how to go to Dzibilchaltun, was an excursion itself. On one of my walks, I found a tourist information kiosk with a huge poster on the window, informing that there are now special buses straight to this place for 150 pesos, return ticket. The guy inside told me I could get the ticket at Park St. Lucia and the bus went three times a week. So next day I went downtown to buy the ticket. When I finally found the tour operator, they told me that due to the low season, those buses don’t go, but I better should ask the main tourist office on the Plaza Grande. There, they told me to go to Park St. Lucia! Oh well, I was there already? Then I better should go to the local bus station from Progreso and get a ticket to Chablecal and then go with a mototaxi to Dzibilchaltun. I thought I better go and investigate where the bus station was situated. It was easy to find and just a short walk from the Grand Plaza. Once there, a sign said “daily buses to Dzibilchaltun, except Sundays”!!! So, I went back with this information to the tourist office and they were very grateful to get this information, as many tourists had asked about this trip……..Why I, as a tourist, had to inform them about the bus schedule to a famous tourist attraction????
So on the morning of the 10th, I got up at 5.45 and packed a bag with my camera, water, a hat and sunglasses. At 6.30 I got immediately the bus into town and walked to the bus station, where I had to stand in line for the bus. The ticket had to be bought in the bus and gosh, I was happy to be on time, as it became packed! I paid the amount of 14 pesos for a one way (better than the 150 pesos!!!) and asked the chauffeur to let me know where to get off. I noticed that often people shout “baja”, which means “getting off”. The ruins are only around 20 km from Merida, but as the bus stops every 5 min. to load or unload people, the trip took about an hour! Once arrived, I had to walk another 15 minutes from the main street to the entrance of the park. I was the first visitor of the day and the park just opened! They also allowed me to bring in my shopping bag, while everywhere it says that no bags are allowed, only swimming gear, in case you want to swim in the Cenote (underwater sinkhole). In Dzibilchaltun, you walk into another world……. Very pretty and interesting and wonderful to be the only visitor for at least one hour! Lots of birds singing and many iguanas. The heat was getting unbearable and that was another reason I was pleased to be so early. I didn’t go for a swim, but watched the only other 2 guests having a dip.
The cenote “Xlakah”, which means “Old Town”, has been the center of religious rites and also provided water to the settlement. The only disappointment was, that the museum was closed on Mondays! That wasn’t mentioned in the Yucatan Magazine. Supposingly, the museum here is very interesting. So by 10.30 I was completely steaming of the heat and I walked the long road to the main street again, this time using my umbrella against the sun. Once on the main road, there was immediately a moto taxi, which is a type of bike with a motor and a seating place at the front. He dropped me off at Chablecal, where I was so lucky to find a bus to Merida in a few minutes time and the bus dropped me off on the Avenida 60, very close to my casita. Within two hours it started pouring, with severe thunder! So glad I got up early today!